A cult of hero worship rose around Harold and by the 12th century legend says that Harold had indeed survived the battle, had spent two years in Winchester after the battle recovering from his wounds, and then traveled to Germany where he spent years wandering as a pilgrim. As an old man he returned to England and lived as a hermit in a cave near
|Dover. As he lay dying, he confessed that although he went by the name of Christian, he had been born Harold Godwineson. Various versions of this story persisted throughout the Middle Ages, and have little claim to fact.
Literary interest in Harold revived in the 19th century with the play ''Harold'' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1876) and the novel ''Last of the Saxon Kings'' by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1848). Rudyard Kipling wrote a story, ''The tree of justice'' (1910), describing how an old man who turns out to be Harold is brought before Henry I of England. E. A. Freeman wrote a serious history in ''History of the Norman Conquest of England'' (1870-1879) in which Harold is seen as a great English hero. By the 21st century Harold's reputation remains tied, as it has always been, with subjective views of the rightness or wrongness of the Norman conquest.